PEI’s PNP Immigration Program Raises Concerns

While PNPs Help Immigration in Canada, Some Argue that Provinces are Taking Advantage of Deposit Requirements

Canada’s provincial nominee programs (PNPs) help fast-track immigration in Canada and stimulate the provincial economies. For some, these PNPs are significant contributors to society. Small provinces, like Prince Edward Island (PEI), have seen immense growth via their PNP; it has even played a positive role in boosting their population.

Some, however, have raised concerns that PEI’s PNP is taking in revenue from the program, but not actually retaining newcomers. The PNP is contributing to PEI’s population growth—being the leading province in Canada with 1.7 percent growth from July 2016 to July 2017. And this population growth is helping the province’s economy. But PEI also appears to have the lowest immigration retention numbers in the country.

Call For Review

According to a CBC News article, PEI’s Official Opposition is calling for a thorough review of the PNP, deeming it a cash grab for the provincial government. A recent report from CBC found that in 2016, PEI’s Liberal government brought in $18 million in revenue by withholding deposits from immigrant investors. Part of the PNP requirement for these investors, who are nominees, is that they open businesses in PEI. But since more than half of the nominees failed to do so, the provincial government may pocket these deposits.

Concerns Over Retention Rate

There are concerns that it is easier to fast-track immigration in Canada by going through PEI’s PNP. The opposition believes PEI is making a profit off newcomers who are willing to pay for a swift route to Canadian citizenship. The low retention rates suggest that the province’s use of a deposit system for its PNP is attracting those who may not intend to stay in the province. Statistics Canada data found that of the economic immigrants who landed in PEI in 2010, only 14 percent were still residents of the province five years later.

After pressure by PEI’s Opposition to conduct a review of the PNP, PEI’s Minister of Economic Development claims the province had already conducted a review several months prior to the Opposition’s request. Part of the review involved requests for changes to the intake and application process, as well as proposals for new immigration decision-makers to work on the PNP.

PEI should focus on improving immigrant retention numbers to help boost the economy instead of relying on forfeited deposits from those who never intended to stay. However, additional research and information is required to understand why individuals are leaving the province and what can be improved to motivate them to remain there with their families in the longer term.